Archive for February, 2009

We’re giving away 7mm pearls with earrings!

SI DAF is stepping it up a notch for the ERC Conference. For those who attended the fall area meeting, you may remember the strand of Pearls we gave away. They were lovely 5 mm pearls won by MaryLynne of SI Peterborough…..but like I said, we want to do better that!

For ECR Conference in May we are offering a set of big 7mm Pearls that also come with a pair of earrings; a combined value of over $1,750.00!

So, why are we telling you now? Obviously this is a valuable prize & in order for us to actually raise funds with this fundraiser, we need to sell tickets! We understand that every Soroptimist of our area can not attend the conference but that does not mean that you can’t support our efforts and have a chance (or many chances) to WIN these pearls!

7mm Pearls - you could be the winner at Spring Conference! Click to view larger image »

7mm Pearls - you could be the winner at Spring Conference! Click to view larger image »

Yes, those who are attending can purchase tickets for those friends, family and SI sisters who are not at the event, but better yet: if you pre-purchase your tickets before conference you will double your chances of winning! Insead of 10 chances for $25 … you will get 20!

Even if you plan to attend, this is a great opportunity to double your chances now, but for those who are not going to be there you will be pleased to know that the winner need not be present!

To pre-order your tickets, please make cheque payable to: SI DAF and mail it to club President, Barbara McCoy (email for her address – we don’t want to publicize it online)

Please include your name, club name, your phone # and mailing address – your ticket stubs will be mailed to you. We will record your name, club & phone number on your tickets as the winner need not be present. (FYI we are NOT marketing these tickets anywhere except to Soroptimists and on our web site. If you have friends or family who love pearls, this draw is open to non-SI members as well.)

Thank you for your support,
Your friends at SI DAF

February 23 2009 under Fundraisers

Ancaster Community Services Annual Food Drive Set a Record

The Ancaster Community Services Annual Food Drive was held on Saturday Feb 21 and a total of $5000 in cash and 79,000 pounds of food was raised!

Our Soroptimist sisters were there with their shirts on and hands ready to help. Thank you to SNAP for including a picture of us!

Each aisle was divided into basic categories: vegetables, soup, dry pasta, canned pasta, pasta sauce, macaroni & cheese (aka KD), beans in sauce, fruit, juice, milk, toiletries, baby food, cookies & crackers (and desserts), cakes & pudding (and baking supplies), condiments, meats & fish. Never had any of us seen such a well organized, all-hands event!

“It is always a very humbling experience to see how a community can come together and give so generously so that the most disadvantaged in our midst can have food on their tables”, said Pauline – a member of SI-DAF and the Ancaster Lions Club.

According to a recent article, over the past five years, the cost of a monthly Nutritious Food Basket for a family of four (based on Canada’s Food Guide) has increased by 14.2%. According to the Hamilton Public Health Services report entitled ““The Cost of Basic Nutritious Food”, the average limited-income family has to choose “between eating well and paying the rent to survive.”

For more information about how you can get involved or make a donation to the Ancaster Community Services, call 905-648- 6675. Items currently in high demand include:

  • pasta
  • canned salmon and tuna
  • stews
  • soups
  • and canned vegetables

February 22 2009 under Programs of Service, SI-DAF Events

Memories from Sierra Leone and Project SIerra: a Family and a Future

An excerpt from Alison Sutherland, Quadrennial Project Liaison, on the memories and experiences of those who recently attended the first project tour:

People are working so hard to survive and feed their families. The lack of infrastructure and industry. The hardest thing was to say no when we have so much, and to realize how selfish our own society is.

Experiencing the dust, colours and sounds of village life; seeing the water pumps, thatched houses and the way people live. The dawn drive to Kamakwie through villages and bushland; women watching over a cooking pot on small wood fires; walking to the stream for water, laundry and bathing, or to the farm with pans, utensils or bundles of wood carried on the head; babies secured to their mother’s back with a cloth; meagre verandah market stalls, with a few cassava roots, pineapple or bottles of kerosene for sale; no vehicles for miles on the dust roads.

The grace with which we were received everywhere. Nothing seemed too much trouble. Arrangements were adjusted, dates changed, yet wherever we went, people gave us their time, welcomed us with open arms into their homes and communities.

Read the whole, very moving and exciting story on the SI Programme Blog »

February 20 2009 under SI News

Live Your Dream Art Contest: Polls are Open

We have received more than 4,300 entries for the Live Your Dream Art Contest from girls and boys throughout the world. A group of professional judges was charged with the challenge of narrowing down the entries to three finalists in each category (K-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12). Now, it’s up to you to choose the winner!

Visit to vote for your favorites »

Live Your Dream Art Contest

Live Your Dream Art Contest

This year, on the first-ever LIVE YOUR DREAM DAY (March 8th, International Women’s Day), Soroptimist is asking you to forgo a simple pleasure (a gourmet coffee, manicure or glass of wine) and donate $5 (more if you can) to Soroptimist’s programs that help women and girls live their dreams. We have a big goal for this fundraiser – $200,000 – but we know we can do it!

Best Wishes,
Alice Wells, SIA President

February 19 2009 under SI News


SI received a report on Feb 13 from one of our SI Representatives to the United Nations – Lois Beilin:

A discussion on Trafficking in Persons was held on February 12 at the UN to put the spotlight on exposing denial and benign neglect. Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Undersecretary General and UNODC (Office on Drugs and Crime) et al reported on countries that are working to expose, eradicate and prosecute the increasing rate of sexual exploitation, slavery, abduction and recruitment for war, trade in body parts and other crimes.

A summary of the post is available on the SI Programme Blog. Some key points to note from the UN report on Trafficking:

  • Data was gathered from 155 countries and is the first global assessment of the scope of human trafficking and what is being done to fight it.
  • The number of convictions for human trafficking is increasing. However, there are still many countries that lack the necessary legal instruments or political will.
  • The most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation and is predominantly women and girls. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour (18%), although this may be a misrepresentation because forced labour is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation.
  • In 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm having been victimized themselves.
  • Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority (up to 100% in parts of West Africa).
  • Although trafficking seems to imply people moving across continents, most exploitation takes place close to home. Data show intra-regional and domestic trafficking are the major forms of trafficking in persons.

To increase public awareness of human trafficking and rally the world to fight it, Mr. Costa appointed Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino as a Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking. “We know that Mira’s commitment to the plight of trafficking victims will move people to take action against modern-day slavery”, said the Executive Director of UNODC.

The Global Report on Trafficking in Persons is available online as a PDF file (292 pages) »

February 18 2009 under SI News

Soroptimists Invest in Hamilton’s Youth

“At least 600 of Hamilton’s Youth are street-involved or homeless”, the 2005 Addressing the Needs of Street-Involved and Homeless Youth in Hamilton report states.  Wesley Youth Housing (WYH) is working to change this with a supportive transitional housing program specially designed to transform the lives of Hamilton’s street-involved and homeless youth. They are working to decrease homelessness by investing in the lives of at-risk youth, ages 16 to 21, and working to create individual well-being, independence and housing stability.

Moved by a past guest speaker, Paul Johnson, Director of Wesley Urban Ministries, we have donated $1,500 to support their mission.

Pauline Hardcastle presents a cheque to Paul Johnson, Director of the Welsley Urban Ministries

Pauline Hardcastle presents a cheque to Paul Johnson, Director of the Welsley Urban Ministries

The money will be used to support one year of Life Coach sessions, which cost approximately $100 to run each month. The youth work one-on-one or in group sessions towards life skills such as budgeting, grocery shopping, cooking and time management.

A snapshot of a pod interior (kitchen area)

A snapshot of a pod interior (kitchen area)

The remainder of the funds will be used to assist with the turn over costs for a fully furnished, all female shared accommodation pod, located at the Main and Hess program facility. Each pod has a common kitchen and eating area, a living room and two bathrooms, plus a locking bedroom for each girl.

Youth are referred primarily by agencies; however self-referrals are accepted. If you would like to find out more about the program or how you can get involved, contact Wesley Urban Ministries at 905.527.4430, by email, or visiting their website at

February 17 2009 under Programs of Service

Baby Showers

Thank you to the friends of SI-DAF who generously donated items to the Babyshowers group in Dundas who collect new and gently used baby and preschool items that are distributed through established community agencies in the Hamilton area.

Articles were picked up yesterday at my home by a wonderful lady, Fran Checkly, known as Mrs. Checkly to me. She was my grade 12 History teacher, one of the best teachers I had. Apparently she is a rock to this group – no surprise!

Shirley E and Fran Checkly from Babyshowers

Shirley E and Fran Checkly from Babyshowers

This donation accompanies a cheque for $1,200 towards new car seats, cribs and twin sized sheet sets. It was presented to Cathy Watts in early February by Linda, who found an article in the Spectator about Babyshowers last fall and submitted their name for consideration to the Programs of Service committee.

Babyshowers accepts donations of new and gently used clothing (newborn to size 6x), shoes, boots, bedding, diapers, formula, books, toys, cribs, stroller, highchairs and playpens. Babyshowers adheres to strict guidelines as set out by the Hazardous Products Act with respect to the safety of all donated items. Charitable receipts are provided for financial donations. Families are referred by established agencies only. For more information about how you can get involved, contact Cathy Watts at 905-627-5135 or

Shirley E

February 16 2009 under Programs of Service

Jane Oulton’s Biography

Jane is a Registered Dietitian of J. Oulton & Associates, providing Nutrition Consulting Services for Long Term Care facilities. She is also president of Diet Kontrol Inc., a company specializing in software for dietary departments in Long Term Care.

Jane grew up and went to school in Vancouver. She moved to Ontario in 1979 to complete a dietetic internship at North York General Hospital. Following that, she settled in Ancaster and raised her family. The children are grown and now off on their own adventures (the dog and turtle gone too). With her husband as a business partner, Jane is focusing on growing her business, but both take time to enjoy skiing, golfing, travel and time with family and friends. And of course, being a dietitian, all activities must involve food.

Jane at the Grand Canyon

Jane at the Grand Canyon

Jane joined Soroptimist as a charter member of the Dundas Ancaster club in 1987 (now Dundas Ancaster Flamborough). One day while walking with her daughter in a stoller on the main street in Ancaster, the owner of one of the shops approached her about Soroptimist. Eager to meet new friends and do some volunteer work in the community she signed up. Since then, Jane has held several positions including club President, Secretary, Treasurer as well as Secretary on the Eastern Canada Region Board.

“I have made some very special friends in Soroptimist and had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, helping women and girls achieve their goals and dreams. Working together on fundraising and disbursement of monies to worthwhile projects and causes with a group of fun, hardworking and successful women is one of the things I like best. Our meetings and conventions always include food, fun, laughter and friendship.”

February 14 2009 under Member Bios, SI-DAF Members

Project SIerra: 1st study tour report

Alison, Quadrennial Project Liaison 2007-11, borrowed an electrical socket at a friendly neighbourhood clinic for an hour to check her email before leaving for the airport. She’s had no daytime electricity where they’ve been staying!

She provided a great synopsis of their journey, filled with much heart felt thanks to their hosts. I encourage you all to read her story. One of the moving excerpts really bears witness to the empowerment provided by Project SIerra:

“upsetting scenes of extreme poverty and dire need of families recently joined to the programme and uplifting examples of some who had graduated and were successfully independent – my own group visited a young mother who had been supported to become a vehicle engineer, has joined the army as an engineer and driver – we met her brigade 2-I-C and superior officers who were clearly delighted with her progress and encouraging her. Her story was tragic – raped by rebels during the war, lost all her immediate family; now well on the way to independence and a good career to help her support herself and her child.”

Read the full project-sierra-1st-study-tour-report on the SI Programme Blog »l

February 13 2009 under SI News

Project SIerra Study Tour – A Pre-Tour Note

On 2 February 2009, 8 Soroptimists from the entire SI world were scheduled to leave Heathrow for the SI Project SIerra Study Tour in Sierra Leone….but…sadly they were stranded in the snow for a few days. We are patiently waiting for stories, which will be posted the moment they arrive- here is [Sandra's excerpt from the] “pre tour” story to whet your appetite:

Some information about Sierra Leone: Population – 6,005,250. Land area – 71,620 (not sure how much that is in corresponding area in Australia) SL emerged from a decade of civil war in 2002 with the help of Britain and a large UN peacekeeping mission. More than 17,000 foregn troops disarmed tens of thousands of rebels and militia fighters.

A lasting feature of the war, which left some 50,000 dead, was the atrocities committed by the rebels, whose trademark was to hack off the hands of their victims. A UN-backed war crimes court has been set up to try those, from both sides, who were involved in the brutalities. The problems of poverty, tribal rivaly and official corruption that caused the war remain. There are 70,000 former combatants who have been disarmed and rehabilitated have swollen the ranks of the young people seeking employment.

SL has the lowest average income in the world and is the worst nation for childbirth in the world having the highest maternal mortality ratio, or risks of maternal death of any country. This is due to obstetric situations such as haemorrhage, obstructed labour, etc, caused by disruption to the health services by the rebellion. Official corruption is rife.

This is a very basic outline of the situation in Sierra Leone. Next time I will be able to tell you more about our partners Hope and Homes for Children and Helo a Needy Child International -HANCI and what we are trying to achieve with SI Project SIerra.

Read the whole story on the SI Programme blog »

Soroptimist International Quadrennial Project (2007-2011), Project SIerra: a Family and a Future, was launched at Convention in July 2007. The project supports women caring for children in extreme poverty and provides a caring secure family home for children who are alone or at risk of abandonment. The project location is Sierra Leone, West Africa. Our project partner is Hope and Homes for Children. Read more on the Project SIerra website [] »

February 9 2009 under SI News